A Pepper Grinder Post

No Rewind

Two times, my younger children have given me a playlist for Christmas. They find a CD's worth of songs that I like, purchase them digitally (if we don't own them already), and burn them to a CD. The other day, I was listening to one of the songs on one of my Christmas playlists. The song is "Breathe (2 AM)" by Anna Nalick, and here is part of the chorus (you can see the entire lyrics ):

'Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, girl
So cradle your head in your hands

hourglassI infinitely prefer thoughtful songs like this to songs of the "I want to get me some" or the "Come on and shake it, baby" variety. At the same time, it certainly isn't a cheerful message. I think the songwriter is basically saying, "You're going to screw things up and there isn't anything you can do to fix it."

In a way, this message is spot on. As opposed to the father and son in "About Time" (a movie I saw recently), we cannot go back in time and correct our mistakes.

However, as I thought about this, something struck me.

People in the past had no more chance of undoing past mistakes than we do now, but they had something modern society has largely discarded—they had rules. Ugh. Rules. Yuck. I think even many Christians associate rules with bad stuff. Rules are what make people into unfeeling legalists or automatons, we think.

And yet, rules had a good side too. A woman who grew up with the rules that predominated in many traditional societies and followed those rules would not be likely to find herself in the predicament of having given her heart and body to some guy who wanted nothing more than a one-night stand.

Why is there so much interest in Jane Austen in some circles? I think it is precisely because people see that those in Austen's time had a road map for social relationships. If they followed the map, it wasn't necessarily true that they would live happily ever after, but they could avoid many of the pitfalls that plague us now. I think many people now have the sense that they are wandering in a mine field and long for a safer time, even while they scorn the rules that were designed to protect them. We long for freedom and fun, but we still wish we didn't have to go through the pain that often follows our uninformed choices.

As I see it, we have a choice. We can follow our own impulses, wherever they may take us, knowing that this may very well lead to cradling our heads in our hands, because we cannot undo what we have done. Or we can give up some of our freedom and follow a set of rules. We still won't be able to undo what we have done, but we have a better chance of not doing something we'll regret later. As you can guess, my recommendation for the map to follow is that contained in the Bible.

roadI write this as someone who has not always followed the teachings of the Bible, and is still haunted by regrets from times I strayed off the path. This brings me to my final point. Even when we have blown it, all is not lost. We can apologize and get back on the path. Will we have pain we could otherwise have avoided? Absolutely. But can God still use us if we turn back to him? Yes!

Think about Peter. He went from being the leader of the disciples of Jesus to being a person who lied three times about even knowing Jesus so he could save his own skin. He could never undo that. But I think that when he asked for forgiveness and ended up being one of the primary leaders of the early church, he was a leader with more humility than he would have had without going through this moment of weakness. I am not saying we should allow ourselves to sin so God can do good things through it, but we should know that those things in our past that fill us with regret can still be used by God for his good purposes.

This is better than a rewind button. Rewinding would give us the chance to try to do everything in the way best for us. God's ability to take our fumbles and bring good out of them shows his overwhelming love for us and his amazing power. That is much better than being able to flip the hourglass.


*Photo Credits: hourglass by , red road by